0 comments 29 April 2009

Movin' down - yay! I lost 1 lb this week! There is no way I will lose 14 more in 5 weeks, but I will finish this period out and make a new goal. My success was definitely due to exercise. I went roller-blading twice this weekend and it always proves to be quite the calorie burner. I know that if I can just get a few days of exercise in each week this weight-loss thing would be much easier. I will try for two days again this week and see how it goes. Have a healthy week!

2 comments 26 April 2009

A long while ago I made a commitment to myself to have more (or some) hobbies. I even made a declaration on my blog. How am I doing? I don't often take these moments to assess, but lately it has become more crucial to acknowledge the little successes in my life. Though I haven't gone on any photography excursions like I would have liked, I have snapped a few that I have been proud of and even got around to hanging one on our wall. I have yet to find the perfect coffee photo for our kitchen wall, but I continue to snap away and am confident I will be satisfied with one of them someday.

My cookbook collection has suffered. I managed to jump-start with some favorites I found on a great site, but the joy in collecting is discovering them at a garage sale, estate sale or used bookstore...and there has not been time in my life for those excursions...somehow I feel like my dream of becoming a master at garage sales will have to wait for retirement.

Another declaration I made long ago was to make one new recipe a week. Some weeks cooking at all is a luxury, but other weeks I have managed two great recipes (both on Sundays - a workin' Mom strategy that I will go into another time).

We have been having a lot of fun in the kitchen these days and here are some of my favorites that are full of flavor and pretty fast too!:

Spicy Curry Beef not really that spicy & Elliot likes it! I don't seem to have a picture of it anywhere, but it really is a favorite in our house.

Asian Concoction - even Brussel haters will enjoy this! Using low sodium ingredients is crucial otherwise it's too salty, tastes great over jasmine rice.

Good Excuse for a Margarita Meal:
Holy Mole Flank Steak (we threw it on the BBQ), Spicy Red Rice, & Garlicky Pinto Beans.

Not Your Mama's Italian Sandwich: make a quick tomato sauce (we recently tried the Quick Tomato Sauce from Cooks Illustrated and it was awesome!), marinate & grill some chicken (just used some lemon juice, olive oil & rosemary), toast your favorite roll with a slice of provolone, top with arugula and chow!

2 comments 24 April 2009

Our friends recently let us pluck some lemons from their tree so I have been making lemony goodness ever since. I started with a great lemon chicken marinade, moved on to Lemon Bars (yes, a little on the nose I know) and rounded things off with Lemon Cupcakes. So far I have had the best luck with the Magnolia Bakery Vanilla Cupcake recipe, so I decided to modify* their recipe instead of taking my chances on an unproven lemon recipe. The results were lemony goodness that I had to share:

For the Cupcakes:

  • 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature {quick tip: if you are in a hurry, just put your cold eggs in a bowl of warm/hot tap water and by the time you are ready to use them they'll be room temp}
  • 3/4 cup milk*
  • 1/4 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice*
  • 1 tbl lemon zest (use even more if you like it really lemony)*
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  2. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake papers.

  3. In a small bowl, combine the flours. Set aside.

  4. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not over beat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended. Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about three-quarters full. Bake for 20–25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean.

  5. Cool the cupcakes in the tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.

I also wanted the frosting to be something very lemony, so I borrowed this lovely lemony butter cream recipe. I used closer to a tablespoon of lemon zest, but if you don't want to pack quite so much of a punch try a bit less. Also, because the lemon juice is so acidic it took quite a bit more sugar to get the texture I wanted...next time I will do 1/4 cup lemon juice and 1/4 cup milk so I don't have to use quite so much sugar.

2 comments 15 April 2009

I think Easter has just surpassed Thanksgiving as my favorite holiday (with my ultimate fav now being 4th of July, of course!). I have always loved Thanksgiving because it truly captured what is important in life - food & family (emphasis on the stuffing & pumpkin pie)! Easter was also a close second for the same reason, but now it has taken the lead by a stiff margin (I think that is sports slang). I love not feeling pressure to pick the perfect presents (pressure that is self inflicted). I love a reason to bake something special {this year Aunt Augusta's Sugar Cookies}. I love making baskets full of goodies that put giant smiles on kiddie's faces. I love spending time with family and friends (without the distraction of mounds of wrapping paper). I love spring - the air, the flowers, the green rolling hills. This year we celebrated Easter 4-times! Typically this would stress and tire me out - but not this year - I loved it! We had the best time and that is why I am going to torture you with the following photos:

with friends!

at home!

...with Dale's side of the family!

...with my side of the family!

I hope you found some special way to enjoy this holiday. I must pass along something funny that was said at one of my celebrations full of Catholics I might add - "Thank you Jesus for turning my water into a Margarita!"


Holding Steady, that's become my reality. There have been many 'reasons to celebrate' these days and I have not made the time to exercise. For that reason, I feel lucky to be holding steady. I think I may have to re-try early morning trips to the gym - ugh. With the beautiful weather, plenty of social engagements and weekend chores to contend with my weekend workouts have disappeared. Hmm, maybe I'll start tomorrow. We'll see. Have a healthy week!

0 comments 05 April 2009